You have just given birth to a beautiful baby after a two day labor. Your nurse and husband wheel you into your new room and you are left alone, just you, your baby, and your husband. There is no booklet given to explain all that will soon happen within the next 36 hours and so, this is where my story of blue begins.
I had always imagined birth and my first days at home with my baby to be something straight out of the TV show "A Baby Story" on TLC. The families on television always looked so happy and put together while holding their one day old baby, but this was not the case with me. My first days looked a little like this. Blood, lots of blood. Milk, lots of milk. Everywhere. Tears, from both Calvin and myself. Doctors. Lots of doctors for Calvin's jaundice. And finally, a mushy body. No longer pregnant and yet no longer my own.
I knew that after giving birth I would not have my old body back right away. Change happens and to some extent there is "no going back." I did gain 45 lbs for each pregnancy after all, but I didn't realize how much my new body would affect my confidence. I've never felt so ugly and unfeminine in my whole life until my first day home after giving birth. I was thankful that God had made my body to birth a beautiful baby into this world but, now what? How long would it take for me to heal? When would the mush go away? When could I fit in and wear my normal clothing again? When could I shower without milk blessing my entire shower?
The hardest part for me with coming to terms with my new body was trying to balance how my body was now being used in a different way to nourish my baby, while also accepting that my body would never fully be the same again. It was empowering and at the same time nerve-racking to know that my body was the only source of survival for my child. I couldn't go anywhere for more than two hours at a time. I could no longer wear my Target-inspired wardrobe, but now was wearing two breast pads, a nursing bra, and tops that made it easy to nurse. I assumed that after a month or so I would be able to at least fit into my old jeans... Yeah, that didn't happen. I never took into account that my hips had widened and would most likely never go back.
Fast forward 2 1/2 years and another birth and I have totally unlocked the secret to getting past all of that! Just kidding. I still struggle with the same feelings. I was genetically predisposed (thanks mom and dad!) to lose all my baby weight with both boys, but my body is still not my own. I am not one to go to the gym at 5AM, like my hardcore Crosfitting sister-in-laws, but I do try to stay healthy by working out while I am with the boys. All the little things have helped me regain my confidence and to see the worth in my body. The Heidelberg Catechism, Q/A 1 has been an immense source of comfort and joy to me in those long moments of experiencing self doubt. I am reminded of who I really am and of what matters most.
1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong--body and soul, in life and in death--to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ . . .